The Links at Poland Spring, a course designed by legendary golf course architect Donald Ross, has built a large practice range on the opposite side of Route 26 that will open for the start of the 2011 golf season.

“We finished seeding it a week ago Friday. Grass is already coming up,” said Cyndi Robbins, owner of the Poland Spring Resort.

Allan Menne, in his first year as head pro at Poland Spring, said the practice range is something the course needed. The range is 320 yards long and 680 feet wide.

“It’s big and beautiful,” said Menne. “Along with the grass-hitting areas, there will be mats. It hasn’t grown in yet, but we’re pretty confident it will be ready next spring.”

As a longtime professional in Connecticut and Martha’s Vineyard before heading north, Menne knows the value a quality practice range can bring to a course.

“It will enable us to give lessons and conduct clinics on a quality facility,” said Menne.

The driving range is only part of the renovation. The golf course will be restoring its greens to Ross’ original design. Over the years, the greens have shrunk because of mowing techniques.

The Links at Poland Spring has a rich history. Arthur Fenn designed six holes in 1896, which made it the first golf course in the country built at a resort. Soon after, Fenn added three holes. That course was replaced by Ross’ design in 1912.

Walter Travis, known for his design of greens and one of the country’s top amateurs of that era, redesigned some of the greens, which gives Poland Spring the rare distinction of having Ross and Travis as architects. Some of the greats who have played Poland Spring include Harry Vardon, Gene Sarazen and Babe Ruth.

“The course is a lot of fun to play,” said Menne. “It’s challenging, but it won’t beat you up. We have golfers who travel long distances to play here because it’s a Donald Ross course.”

As for the green restoration, Menne said: “We’ll do two greens a year.”

Overseeing the restoration is Ron Forse, an architect from Pennsylvania who restores classic courses.

“Ron came by and toured the course,” said Menne. “He loved the history and the green complexes.

“The beauty of it is that we will be able to restore the greens without any digging or moving of earth. recapturing their original shape, it will bring back some great pin positions.

Along with the practice range across the street, there will be a miniature golf course and a Frisbee golf course. The entire area will encompass 13 acres.

“It will be good for the area, said Robbins. “The whole complex is going to be of high quality and fun to experience.”

The miniature golf course and Frisbee golf course are expected to be ready in June. People using the practice range, the miniature golf course or the Frisbee golf will drive to the area, which will have a parking lot.

After warming up for their rounds, golfers will drive over to the golf course. Poland Spring doesn’t want anyone crossing four-lane Route 26 on foot or in a golf cart.

The Poland Spring Resort has many regular members from the area who know a good deal when they see one.

The membership fee stays the same for as long as they remain members, providing they pay by April 15.

“We have members who joined in 1976 for $99,” said Robbins. “Their membership fee hasn’t changed.” 

TEE TO GREEN: Joe Alvarez, who won the Maine State Golf Association’s match-play championship last month, qualified for the United States Mid-Amateur Championship last week. Alvarez, of Hampden, shot a 2-over-par 72 at Longmeadow (Mass.) Country Club.

Shawn Warren, an assistant pro at the Falmouth Country Club, won the Maine Chapter PGA Championship last week with rounds of 69-70–139 at Martindale Country Club in Auburn. He beat Jon Ellis of Sanford Country Club on the first playoff hole after Ellis also shot a 139 total for 36 holes.

 

Staff Writer Tom Chard can be reached at 791-6419 or at:

[email protected]